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Fatima Iglesias emilia clarke//
Ex-Pres goalie overwhelmed by support

Ex-Pres goalie overwhelmed by support

THE future is looking bright for former Presentation College goalkeeper Tyrek Jahfari James, whose eyesight was threatened.

Fatima Iglesias

Within a week of his diagnosis, his girlfriend Kimberly Sylvan turned to GoFundMe to raise money to save his sight, past students at his alma mater rallied around him and he had cataract removal surgery on his left eye

Once he has recovered from this surgery, which has already enhanced his vision, surgery will be done on his right eye

In an interview on Friday, James, 20, cried as he recounted his experience

“To be honest, I never grow up with everything and for people to treat me like that, I am overwhelmed,” he said.

He was grateful to his former classmates, teammates and teachers who supported him

The Marabella youth said he did not pass for Presentation College but Pleasantville Secondary. He was transferred to “Pres” because of his football skills

“I went to Pres for three years and the response, to a person like me, showing me that I am one of them, treating me how they would treat themselves, was really a very nice experience

“It was very overwhelming and emotional for me to know people were going out of their way for me to get the message across as best and as far as they could.”

Within hours of Sylvan’s appeal through Go Fund Me to save her partner’s sight, Prestige Foundation president Stephen Samlalsingh started sharing the post, and within hours Pres alumni from around the globe responded, raising and surpassing the amount James needed

The foundation also networked with past students who are doctors and were able to arrange surgery almost immediately at the San Fernando General Hospital (SFGH)

James recounted that it was as recently as July 31 that he was diagnosed with bilateral cataracts with reduced vision. The doctors recommended emergency surgery to save him from going blind

“I did the test and diagnosis and today, Friday, August 9, I am in day two of recovery after doing surgery. I feel so important, that doctors in the outreach programme from Moran Eye Centre, based in Utah, USA did the surgery. They were wonderful. They carried me through everything, step by step.”

He thanked Sylvan, who he said had been with him “through thick and thin, supporting me. If she did not make an appeal this would not have happened. I am truly thankful to her.”

Sylvan said as his vision started getting dimmer, James became a frustrated and angry young man

“But the transformation since the surgery has been totally extreme. His vision in the left eye has improved immensely.”

Unfortunately, the vision in his right eye has worsened

Sylvan too expressed her heartfelt gratitude to the school, but singled out Samlalsingh and Dr Ryan Ramoutar, head of the ENT department at the SFGH for their effort

“This was unexpected, and this is what makes it so much more overwhelming and appreciated. They are genuine people.”